One of the most common goals that clients come have, and generally a common question, is surrounding the benefits of a strong back.
While some may simply want to improve their posture or alleviate back pain, having a strong back is essential for overall improvement when it comes to quality of life.
In this article, we will discuss why having a strong back is important, the muscles that make up the back, and some exercises that can help you achieve a stronger back.
What are the Benefits of a Strong Back?
Your back is one of the largest and most complex muscle groups in your body, and it plays a crucial role in many everyday movements.
A strong back can improve your posture, balance, and overall athletic performance, while also reducing the risk of injury in training or simply going through daily activities; so, here’s why.
When you have a strong back, your spine is better supported in turn, improving your posture.
Poor posture is a common problem for many people, especially those who spend long hours sitting at a desk or looking down at their phone. Over time, poor posture can cause neck and shoulder pain, headaches, and even spinal problems, so, the sooner that you’re able to begin strengthening the muscles controlling your posture, the better.
Your back muscles are also important for maintaining your balance.
A strong back helps you stabilise your torso, which is essential for daily movements, including basics like walking and running. By improving your balance, you can reduce your risk of falls and other injuries, particularly if you’re elderly when the risk of falls are more apparent.
Reduced risk of injury
A strong back can also help prevent injuries, especially those that are common among athletes and those who have active lifestyles. When your back muscles are weak, you are more likely to suffer from strains, sprains, and other injuries.
By strengthening your back, you can reduce your risk of these injuries and improve your overall physical health.
What muscles make up the back?
Before we discuss some exercises that can help you strengthen your back, let's take a closer look at the muscles that make up this complex muscle group, knowing these can help you better understand how to isolate these during training to hit every area.
There are three main muscle groups that make up the back, so let’s look into these a little more.
The trapezius muscle is a large, triangular muscle that runs from the base of your skull down to your mid-back. This muscle helps you move your shoulders and neck freely and is important for maintaining good posture.
The rhomboid muscles are located between your shoulder blades and help you move your shoulders and arms. These muscles are essential for maintaining good posture and preventing shoulder injuries.
The latissimus dorsi, or "lats," are the largest muscles in your back and run from your mid-back down to your pelvis.
These muscles are important for pulling movements, such as rows and pull-ups, and are essential for overall upper body strength.
Exercises for a stronger back
Now that you understand the importance of having a strong back, we can take a look at some of the specific exercises that can contribute to you achieving a stronger back during weight lifting.
Deadlifts are one of the most effective exercises for strengthening your back, as well as your legs and core since there are so many variations that require different muscle groups.
To perform a deadlift, stand with your feet hip-width apart and grip a barbell with both hands. Keeping your back straight and your shoulders pulled back, pull the slack out of the bar and lift the barbell up off the ground and stand up straight. Lower the barbell back down to the ground and repeat.
(PS: if you’re unsure what pulling the slack out of the bar is referring to, click here!)
Rows are another effective exercise for strengthening your back muscles.
There are many variations of row exercises, including dumbbell rows, barbell rows, and cable rows. To perform a dumbbell row, place one knee and hand on a bench, with your other foot on the ground. Holding a dumbbell in your other hand, pull it up towards your chest, keeping your elbow close to your body.
Lower the dumbbell back down and repeat.
Pull-ups are a challenging exercise but are highly effective for strengthening your back muscles, especially your lats. So, if you’re a beginner, start by either using the assisted pull up machine or a resistance band around your feet or knees. These can give you the extra support you may need and allow you to progress all the while.
The superman exercise is a bodyweight exercise that targets your lower back muscles, meaning if you’re starting slow, you can perform a superman exercise with no equipment just you and a gym mat.
First lie face down on the ground with your arms and legs extended. Lift your arms, legs, and chest off the ground at the same time, holding for a few seconds before lowering back down and repeating.
Plank with row
The plank with row is a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including your back, abs, and shoulders.
To perform a plank with a row, start in a high plank position with your hands on dumbbells (if you’re not ready to add weight yet, just lift your hand). Pull one dumbbell up towards your chest, keeping your elbow close to your body, then lower it back down and repeat on the other side.
Before you Go…
Ultimately, having a strong back is important for overall health and fitness. A strong back can improve your posture, balance, and athletic performance while reducing your risk of injury. The back is a complex muscle group, consisting of the trapezius, rhomboids, and latissimus dorsi muscles, each of which are important for different movements.
By incorporating exercises such as deadlifts, rows, pull-ups, supermans, and plank with rows into your workout routine, you can strengthen your back and improve your overall physical health.
As always, it's important to consult with a personal trainer or healthcare professional before starting any new exercise programs if you need to, don’t forget, if you need help getting started with an online or in-house fitness coach, enquire today at Infinity Performance.